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William Parker: For Those Who Are, Still

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Bassist, composer and bandleader William Parker is a bottomless well of creativity, and his endless run of superb recordings continues with For Those Who Are, Still, a three-disc box of four previously unissued long-form works, one of them dating back 15 years.

The four pieces, by four ensembles, are very different from one another; the only unifying theme is that they had been in the vault. “For Fannie Lou Hamer,” a 28-minute tone poem honoring the late civil-rights leader that was recorded in 2000, begins as a droning, unmusical storm but changes form several times. The 10-piece house band at the Manhattan arts space the Kitchen performs the composition, along with Parker’s favorite vocalist, Leena Conquest; Parker himself doesn’t play. Conquest sings beautifully and delivers spoken word, spurred on by stringed and wind instruments, plunky percussion and freely blown brass. Freedom, structure and groove coexist peacefully. Conquest returns, 10 1/2 years later, for the nine-movement “Vermeer,” a stripped-down event with saxophonist Darryl Foster, pianist Eri Yamamoto and Parker on bass and bamboo flute. It’s a tasteful, refined affair, drawing equally from the realms of free improvisation and chamber music, with vocals that hint at the operatic. It’s quite lovely.

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